I cannot for the life of me remember a time in our country’s history when politics were more divisive than they are right now. Never have the sides been so clearly drawn. You are either with us or against us. On our side or opposed to us. The middle is a sweet memory from a simpler time. Oh, how I miss the middle. I miss reason. I miss respectable conversations with people sharing different views. I miss not facing repercussions or judgements for my opinions, and I bet you do too.
I am writing this in the fleeting weeks before one of the most contentious elections I can remember. I do not have an outlook on who is going to win. This post is not about the candidates, their abilities, or their agendas. It is only about the outcome and our response to it.
I can reasonably guess that about half of our country will be ecstatic with the outcome (they have no reason to be, their candidate is nothing to write home about). The other half will be in a fog of despair for the next four years (in the best-case scenario, angry and bitter in the worst). That is the outcome, one side wins and the other loses. You are either happy or sad.
I propose a far better way. We need to learn to be content with the things that are out of our control. You clearly are unable to control the outcome of this, or any, election. You can, however, control your response to the outcome and that is the purpose of this humble blog post.
If your candidate wins, feel free to gloat on election night or whenever we get the outcome. It has been a long journey to victory and your side accomplished the seemingly impossible. But only gloat for 24 hours, otherwise it is very unbecoming and will rub half the people the wrong way. You may think, “Who cares if I rub people the wrong way? We won, that’s the point.” Then I would suggest that your attitude is part of the problem with the division in our country. You should care about the people in your community, your family, your church, and wherever you may find yourself. We are all on this human journey together and kindness and humility go a long way to make the journey more tolerable.
So, gloat, celebrate and cheer for the win, but much past the next day it will get annoying. As I mentioned earlier, the victor is not paragon of virtue nor is he the savior of our woes. He is a flawed human who managed to outlast his opponent.
I am less concerned about the half of the country who are happy with the results than I am for the losing side. These people will wallow in the loss for far too long and look at their life as a struggle to endure for the next four years. This is a problem. You are giving the winner, a person you cannot stand, enormous power over you. To me, this is insane. With all due respect, giving the power to someone else for your own happiness and well-being, regardless of your view of them, is flawed thinking; but to give the power to a person for which you have no respect, and don’t know personally, is nothing short of madness.
I am speaking from experience here. Without naming names, I found myself wallowing in disappointment for administrations in the past with which I did not vote. I spent years being bitter and upset and allowing my moods and attitudes to be shaped by a president that I did not vote for, and with whom I disagreed and disliked. It was only through a series of revelations that I discovered the folly of my thinking, and only then did I consciously work on focusing on the positives within my life and my control.
As you probably know, I start each new day with the process of writing down the three gratitudes I have for the new day. It may simply be the sunrise, a smile from a stranger, or not hitting any red traffic lights on my way to work. Regardless of what I am grateful for, this practice has been scientifically proven as an effective means for creating and sustaining happiness.
Not only are we granted the right to pursue happiness by our constitution, it should be our goal. Our time here on earth is far too brief to spend it bitter, disappointed, and angry. So, chin up. Your guy didn’t win. Big deal. I can assure you that life will go on. You will witness a breath-taking sunrise, will taste delicious foods, enjoy the company of the people you love the most and you will smile. If you find yourself despondent, call me, send me an email. I will show you the silver lining and hopefully bring a smile to your face.